CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats are starting talks on forming a new government.

It marks an attempt to break an impasse more than three months after the country’s election.

The five-day talks include Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democrats (SPD).

The centre-left SPD has governed jointly with the chancellor’s centre-right party for eight of the last 12 years. But, after a historically poor poll result in September, SPD leader Martin Schulz had vowed to take his party into opposition.

The effort to form a government has already become Germany’s longest since World War II.

Pressure has mounted on the SPD since November, when Merkel failed to cobble together a coalition with the liberal FDP and the Greens. She must now convince SPD leaders they have enough common goals to start formal coalition talks by March or April.

Merkel said she was optimistic a deal could be struck. Schulz, meanwhile, said he would not draw any red lines and that “new times call for new politics”.